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UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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I Always Knew It Was Wednesday

I Always Knew It Was Wednesday

I always knew it was Wednesday because they tortured me every Wednesday. One huge benefit of FTL’s ministry is the privilege of partnering with some extraordinary leaders. Some of these leaders have faithfully and effectively served the church in their context for decades. They are compelled by the love of Christ. They have committed themselves, their families, and their futures to reach others with the Good News. In many cases, they have paid a stiff price for their resolve. These brothers and sisters are the heroes of FTL’s story. One of these leaders is one we will call “A”. “A” calls Addis Ababa, Ethiopia home, but his travels take him far beyond. His broad impact for Christ throughout East Africa has been monumental. Yet his reputation has not come without a price. During Ethiopia’s communist regime (1987-91), “A” was imprisoned for his bold Christian witness. Although he lost track of

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Are We Just Filling Holes?

Are We Just Filling Holes?

During the summer that I turned 37, my mentor asked me, “Have you decided what you want to be when you grow up? And how can I help you get there?” His tone was gentle. His words were warm. But his question was serious. It seems like the kind of question you ask a 5-year old. Or of someone who just finished high school. But at 37, much of my adult professional life has already been lived. I’ve grown in some areas, I’ve failed in others, but I’ve been doing it. Gone are the days of my idealistic youth. Idealism doesn’t leave a whole lot of margin for internal politics, unhealthy work cultures, and flawed systems. Nor does it account for the fact that we need to learn to master the “waiting game” as unfulfilled dreams to change the world rest. Have you decided what you want to be? And

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Privileged to Serve

Privileged to Serve

Last month Freedom to Lead International was in Ethiopia. This is a report from the President. Dear Friends, Thank you for praying as seven FTL team members from various locations travelled safely, and everyone stayed relatively healthy. Our indigenous ministry partners were very excited as they learned two modules of The Garden Project: Peacemaking  and Spiritual Leadership. They reported on the profound impact of former FTL modules both on themselves and on those they lead. Doug Gent, an attorney from Pennsylvania and FTL board member, accompanied us on this trip. Here are his reflections of the experience: My recent visit to Ethiopia with the FTL team was an excellent opportunity to observe both the team at work and the responsiveness of the Ethiopian participants.  It quickly became evident that FTL has established a high level of trust and acceptance with these groups of Ethiopian church leaders. From the testimonies shared by

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Reaching the Unengaged through the Leader on the Bridge

Reaching the Unengaged through the Leader on the Bridge

In order to reach many, invest in a few. How does a half dozen people reach 5000 unengaged Christian leaders in Africa? It’s simple, really, though certainly not simplistic. It is actually not t0o unlike the way our Lord Jesus did with The Twelve.  In order to engage the masses of Christian leaders who need the tools to grow as Christ-centered leaders in their churches and communities we invest in the one we call “The Leader on the Bridge.” By investing in this leader on the bridge, we mentor him or her as he takes the material across the “bridge” of language, culture, and geography to transfer these principles to those truly at the grassroots level. Each bridge leader is different in terms of culture, language, personality, and gender. He or she is also different in terms of background, area of ministry, and theological leanings – just as God created us

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I Am Reverend Fofana

I Am Reverend Fofana

Imagine 27 church and mission leaders from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, and Madagascar gathering together to engage in stories and discussions about Leadership for a Healthy Church. This is what we have been privileged to witness this past month. One participant shared that he had a vision the night before of a water pump that would not yield water. He said, “in my vision, I was so thirsty so I used the water pump but no water came out. I did not know what the vision meant.” What he later came to learn was that the image of a rice field vs. water pump style of leadership is our driving image for this first leadership module. We encourage the leaders to be “rice-field” (Christ-centered) leaders rather than “water pump” (power, big boss) leaders. It’s a simple image, but it has profound impact. Big Boss Leader Also central to this first module

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Remain in Me

Remain in Me

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” These disciples did remain in Christ, and God used them beyond their wildest imagination. What is happening in this church?  This coming June, Tina and I look forward to visit her parents in the Florida town where Tina grew up. During our annual visits we typically attend a small church there. It’s the church where we were married nearly forty years ago. Today the church building sits in a declining neighborhood; most passersby don’t even know it’s there.The church’s pastor is a local. God delivered him from alcohol abuse, transformed his life, and called him into ministry. He doesn’t have much formal education. On Sunday mornings, he opens his bible, reads a few verses of Scripture, and explains it to the congregation. When time runs

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The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

The Narrow Path to Peace (Song)

Teaching About Peacemaking Through Song Today we’d like to feature a song from Freedom to Lead International®‘s (FTL) most recent trip to Bamako, Mali. It is here where indigenous musicians developed culture specific songs to go along with FTL’s leadership development module on Peacemaking. The Lyrics “Avoid the Slippery Slopes,” says the lyrics of today’s song. And just what are the slippery slopes? The slippery slopes are two natural responses to conflict: “to fight” and “to take flight.” However, these are responses that a wise leader needs to learn to avoid. Instead, a good leader will seek the narrow path that leads to reconciliation. FTL’s The Garden Project curriculum uses the image of a muddy path with steep, slippery slopes on either side in order to teach leaders the difficulty of navigating conflict and moving toward resolution (see below). The Musicians This team of Bambara musicians from Bamako, Mali created today’s

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Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

Storytelling Questions The Story of Rev. Gupta Rev. Gupta was a well-loved pastor in his rural community for many years. He brought together his friends Raju and Geeta to help build the church and these people became life long friends. The community was being reached with the gospel, people were being baptized every week, and the church was growing. Rev. Gupta was able to get further study in a neighboring city. As the church started to expand and new ministries were being added, several things began to happen. Raju and Geeta were concerned by the changes they were seeing in Rev. Gupta (or, rather, as he now wanted to be referred to as Dr. Gupta). As the ministry grew under Dr. Gupta’s leadership, he was invited to travel and teach and, in the process, became a sought-after conference speaker. It wasn’t long, however, before the early signs of “big boss sickness” began

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The Prayers of the Faithful

The Prayers of the Faithful

There is a group of ladies at the local church. You know them. You can even picture their faces in your mind. On the outside they look like they lead simple, quiet lives. They’ve raised their families. They work in their gardens. They bring casseroles to the sick. They gush over new babies and encourage blushing new brides. They sell handmade items at craft fairs to raise money for world missions. They give advice on how best to thaw that frozen chicken. They bring jars of honey and jam as gifts. Many have husbands who are also active in the church. And for the past thirty years, every Thursday at 9:00 AM these men and women have gathered together in someone’s living room to pray. As a missionary kid, and then as a missionary myself, I have grown up with the legacy of the prayers of the faithful. I am

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We Have Waited So Long

We Have Waited So Long

It was 1980-something and our church had invited a missionary to speak. Inevitably, this meant the service would go long, so I decided to sit in the balcony. By the time the missionary began his appeal, I was already praying. He raised his arms and said, “God needs people to go into the harvest, people willing to say, ‘Here am I, send me.’” Moved by these words I continued praying, “Not me, not me, O, please God, not me.”   The missionary continued, “And God is calling the person out there that is saying, ‘Please God, not me’”.   Startled by the missionary’s words and fearing I had spoken out loud, I continued to pray, “Heavenly Father I know you are a God who answers prayers, please don’t send me. I have a brother, send him. I’ll pay.” I spent 30 years trying to forget that day. For the last six

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Reaching the Unreached People in East Africa

Reaching the Unreached People in East Africa

Real People With Real Stories “Grace” is 30 years old. Every week she walks on rough roads through mountainous terrain for 25 miles in order to reach the community for Jesus. She is persecuted for her faith, but she persists in her ministry because her calling to the unreached is great. “Ian” worked among an unreached people group. He was one of the very few Christ followers that had made contact with these people. “Jerry” was building into Ian, developing him as a leader in order to grow the church there. Last month, Jerry’s phone alerted him that Ian was calling, except when he answered it wasn’t Ian. The person on the other end had to deliver the bad news that Ian had been killed in a car accident. Jerry lost not just a friend that day, but one of his strategic leaders in his network. With Ian now gone,

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Leading With Story

Leading With Story

Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders in a Storycentric Generation Originally Posted on January 26, 2017 by Missio Nexus This is a long overdue book about leadership in a world suffering from future shock – a world changing so rapidly that no one can keep up. Changes are happening so quickly that most of the time it feels like we are living on the starship Enterprise leaping into cyberspace where no man has gone before. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, podcasts and live streaming of sermons, university-accredited online theological degrees, discipleship training, and leadership development provide for a quick, inexpensive means to churn out vast numbers of new leaders for the next generation – the demand is great but the workers are few. Print Version Kindle Version While we now have electronic Bibles flying around the world instantly we may mistakenly think that the digital world will solve most of our most pressing problems

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